Shit. Jeffrey thought as he opened his eyes to meet the bright blazing sun.
Not this again. He thought, feeling the hot sun heat his skin as the sound of footsteps crunching the rough beach sand approached him.
“We meet again,” a voice that obviously belonged to the witch muttered, coming to a stop by his lying figure. She towered over him, blocking the blazing sun from his view.
“I guess we do,” Jeffrey said in response, looking up at the woman. She didn’t look as bright as always. Her brows were knitted into a neat frown, and the edge of her lips were downturned to show she wasn’t quite happy.
The woman let out a small elongated sigh, patting the side of her updo before looking down at Jeffrey to address him.
“I’ve been living in this small town whoring for as long as I can remember,” she started, looking straight into Jeffrey’s eyes. “I’ve always lived here. I stayed with my mother and filled in her shoes when she passed,” she continued, placing her hands on her chest dramatically.
“All I want to do is escape this life, is that too much to ask? I’m tired of living of small earnings from my madam, I’m tired of getting my wardrobe restocked by men that only care about my body, and I’m darn tired of getting harassed by pained wives every once in a while,” the lady complained, making Jeffrey give her a look of pity. Her life did sound hard, but he was sure there were a lot of things she could do besides whoring. Jeffrey had met a lot of women whose lives had taken a turn for the worst at one point in time or the other but had never considered the profession she was in.
“How will pearls relieve you of your hardship? They too are sure to be exhausted of their worth after a while,” Jeffrey pointed out, before proceeding to sit upon the sand.
“Truth be told, I would never care for them if I could practice my witchcraft openly. I know prostitutes get rallied up and burned in times of disease spread, but it’s not as bad as the number of people burned for believing to practice witchcraft every other day,” the woman said, putting a hand on her corseted waist.
“I do say it’s brighter than usual,” she said, straying off topic as she squinted under the sunlight.
Jeffrey thought about what the woman had said. She did have a point, but he was sure exploiting merpeople wasn’t the way to go.
“Why me?” Jeffrey asked in a low tone. He’d been wondering why the woman had even entrusted a task like this to him in the first place.
“Isn’t it obvious?” the majority of us humans are oblivious to the existence of merpeople. Most of us have a small idea, but most of them are myths relating them to the supernatural. You’ve been down there, you know they’re just like us, as normal as ever,” she said, turning her attention to the ocean. “If I asked another person to do this, they’ll be more concerned with capturing the merpeople and making a bounty out of them. I might seem uncaring, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“But you,” she started, tearing her gaze from the water before squatting so that she was on the same level as Jeffrey. “You won’t hurt them, and from what I’ve seen you won’t mind even being one of them.”
“Isn’t stealing from them doing exactly that? As in, hurting them?” Jeffrey asked as he allowed his blue eyes to meet her darker ones.
“I don’t need a lot, just enough to live on for a while,” she muttered, taking Jeffrey’s chin in her hand.
"Do it for me, please?” she asked before everything went blurry and Jeffrey was subjected to that feeling of being plugged back into reality.
Jeffrey’s eyes opened as a slight headache began to take its toll on him.
He sat up on the nest, pulling his tail to himself. He’d laid down with only the intention of relaxing but had somehow fallen into sleep.
He sighed to himself, running a hand through his blonde locks before getting out of the nest. He needed to get some things from the marketplace. In the midst of all his problems he still had to take out time to look after himself.
He picked up the skin waist bag that Yanus had gifted him early into his stay here. Jeffrey had stocked it with things like small stone knifes to the varying shells merpeople used as a medium of exchange alongside still trading by barter.
Swimming out of his dwelling, Jeffrey greeted people as he passed by them, stopping for a short casual conversation once in a while before continuing on his journey.
The marketplace wasn’t far and Jeffrey was soon there. He made a mental note of what he was there for in other not to be swayed to buy anything else. The merpeople that practiced trade were highly persuasive, but what else was to be expected of people that had been specially handpicked to perform the task.
Jeffrey was through the market, trying to ignore the calls from traders. He was there for a new blade and a container to store food, but he was having a hard time reminding himself that. His eyes sometimes betrayed him by taking a look at the jewelry and luxury stands. Sometimes the traders would catch him staring and beacon to him. He would look away, quite startled, before swimming away.
He blinked when his eyes caught sight of Aquas at a stand. He was taking a look at the decorative bangles the merwoman at the other end was showcasing to him.
“This one’s all the way from Atlantis. It’s pure gold too,” the woman chatted animatedly as Aquas picked up the bangle for closer examination.
He smiled. The pretty thing was decorated with engraved rubies at the side. The craftsmanship of it all just made him want it all the more.
“How much is it?” Aquas asked, looking over at the woman.
“I’ll let you have it for fifty,” she said, rubbing her chin with her fingers as she gave Aquas a smile. The young merman shook his head at that. It was too expensive, and the small allowance the council gave to people of age who were without duty couldn’t cover it.
“I guess I can’t get it then, it’s mighty expensive,” Aquas muttered with a weak smile.
“I’ll pay,” Aquas heard someone say, turning to find Jeffrey behind him. Jeffrey swam to his side, fishing out a hand full of shells from his waist bag and began to count. The woman handed Aquas the band when she and Jeffrey settled, turning to put the money away.
“You didn’t have to do that...” Aquas trailed as Jeffrey turned to his side to look at him.
“I wanted to,” he muttered, making the younger merman pale considerably. Merpeople paled instead of reddened like humans when embarrassed or flustered. Jeffrey just loved putting the look on Aquas. He felt it suited him.
“It was a lot of money,” Aquas pointed out, twirling the bangle slowly between his fingers as he looked down at the ocean floor.
“I know,” Jeffrey said with a sigh as he folded his hands over his bare chest. “I guess I’ll have to manage the blunt blade I have at the moment until I get some more money.”
Aquas let out a small chuckle. “You forfeited buying a much-needed blade to purchase a vain jewelry piece?” he asked, watching as a small smile formed on Jeffrey’s lips.
“Yes, but it’s your vain jewelry piece,” Jeffrey said in defense, making Aquas pale.
“Thank you,” Aquas muttered, slipping the bangle through his hand and onto his wrist. He shook his hand a bit, admiring how good it looked.
“It’s beautiful,” Jeffrey said as they swam away from the stand and through the market together. Aquas didn’t reply to that. His mind was rather hazed with his thoughts and he wasn’t sure of what to say.
As they stopped at a stall for Jeffrey to buy the food container he’d wanted to, Aquas took a good look at the merman. He couldn’t deny that Jeffrey was handsome... He was also rather sweet.
Aquas’ face paled again when Jeffrey turned to face him after making the purchase. Aquas wasn’t sure why that was happening a lot lately. Well, he had a good guess.
I like him. Aquas admitted to himself in his mind. The idea was hard to wrap his head around considering they hadn’t known each other for too long. But he knew it was true, and it was a nice feeling.
I really like him. He thought again as Jeffrey took his hand in his as they proceeded to leave like it was the most natural thing in the world.